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Summer Palace
Summer Palace
Actors: Bai Xueyun, Cui Lin, Duan Long, Hao Lei, Guo Xiaodong
Director: Lou Ye
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2008     2hr 20min

From the director of Purple Butterfly and Suzhou River comes Lou Ye's sprawling epic Summer Palace . Yu Hong (Lei Hao) is a rebellious young woman from a small Chinese town transplanted to a politically charged Beijing Uni...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Bai Xueyun, Cui Lin, Duan Long, Hao Lei, Guo Xiaodong
Director: Lou Ye
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance
Studio: Palm Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/11/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 20min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Mandarin Chinese, German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

An intelligent film about obsessive love
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 03/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In the late 1980's, an inexperienced young woman named Yu Hong leaves her hometown and boyfriend in the provinces to attend Beijing University. Almost immediately, she falls into a passionate love/hate relationship with a fellow student at the school. This torrid affair plays out partly against the backdrop of the student protests and subsequent massacre that occurred in Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989. (The movie also takes place briefly in Germany, the other part of the world where significant social change was occurring in 1989).

"Summer Palace" plays almost like the autopsy of a romantic obsession, attempting to get at the root of why we love in the way that we do. A novice at true love, Yu Hong understands neither her undying passion for Zhou Wei nor her seemingly incessant need to keep sabotaging their relationship. The closest she can come to grasping this paradox is when she says to Zhou Wei: "I want to break up...because I can't leave you." Love is seen almost as a form of mental illness in this film - as a debilitating, all-consuming condition that one is powerless to control or "cure" but which, if left unchecked, can become the single dominant force in a person's life (we rarely see Yu Hong studying, let alone going to class). One can attempt to fill the void with other loves, but the heart always comes back to the same place.

"Summer Palace" is long and occasionally repetitious and the political aspects aren`t as effectively integrated into the story as they perhaps might have been, but the movie is beautifully acted by Lei Hao and Xiaodong Guo, among others, and features incisive and sensitive direction by Ye Lou (who, along with Feng Mei and Ma Yingli, co-authored the screenplay). This is a largely impressionistic film, concentrating more on mood, imagery and emotions than on narrative. The last hour of the film - so filled with longing and regret as the characters age and attempt to come to terms with the special thing they have lost - is particularly lyrical and heartbreaking and will haunt you long after the movie is over.

All told, "Summer Palace" is an intelligent and moving rumination on that mysterious force we call love.
Not to be missed!
Severin | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Here's a film that's absolutely not to be missed! Fabulous concept, screenplay, direction, production and magnificent star-making performances. Best love story I've seen in years!"
Beautiful, dreamlike
King Ghidrah | NY, NY | 03/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film is shot beautifully, I loved how it felt. Ye has a great touch and the performances are all top notch. I can understand some people not having the attention span for the film, but I found it quite moving.

The SF Chronicle's review was dead on for me: "the most important mainland Chinese film this decade"..."